By Tim Harkins, Cowboy State Daily
After a month without a home game, the Wyoming Cowboys return to War Memorial Stadium this Saturday, Oct. 16 to host the Fresno State Bulldogs in Wyoming’s first Mountain West Conference home game of the 2021 season. The game will kick off at 1:30 p.m., Mountain Time.
Wyoming will enter Saturday’s game with a 4-1 overall record and an 0-1 record in the Mountain West. Fresno State is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the MW.
Saturday’s game will feature UW Athletics annual Military Day. The annual event honors individuals who have represented the United States in all branches of the military — past and present.
Two Maxwell Award Candidates Will be Featured on Saturday
Two of the featured players in this Saturday’s game between the Cowboys and Bulldogs will be Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay and Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener. Both Valladay and Haener are on the 2021 Maxwell Award Watch List. The Maxwell Award is presented annually to the outstanding player in college football.
Valladay Continues to Move Up Wyoming’s Career Rushing List
In Wyoming’s most recent game at Air Force on Oct. 9, Cowboy running back Xazavian Valladay rushed for 96 yards to move into the No. 5 spot in career rushing yards at the University of Wyoming. Valladay enters this week with 2,647 career rushing yards. He moved past former Cowboy running back Marques Brigham, who rushed for 2,605 yards during his career as a Cowboy from 1995-98.
Valladay rushed for 396 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He totaled 1,265 rushing yards as a sophomore in ’19 and had 550 rushing yards in only five games in the shortened season of 2020. This season, he has rushed for a total of 436 yards in five games. He earned First Team All-Mountain West Conference honors in both 2019 and 2020.
For the past two seasons, Valladay has been the most productive and consistent offensive weapon the Wyoming Cowboys have had. He once again displayed his consistency at UConn on Sept. 25 as he recorded the 12th 100-yard rushing game of his career. Valladay rushed for 101 yards against the Huskies.
When he recorded his 12th career 100-yard rushing game against UConn, it got us to wondering how those games equate to Wyoming wins and losses. When Valladay has rushed for 100 or more yards, Wyoming has a 9-3 record.
Included in those nine wins are victories over: New Mexico (2018 and ’19), Missouri (’19), Nevada (’19), Colorado State (’19), Georgia State (’19), Hawai’i (’20), Northern Illinois (’21) and UConn (’21). The only three losses came in road losses: at Boise State, 17-20 in overtime (’19); at Utah State by five points, 21-26 (’19); and at Colorado State 24-34 (’20).
Wyoming and Fresno State Have Played Some Memorable Games Against One Another
Since they first played each other in 1992 when they were both members of the Western Athletic Conference, Wyoming and Fresno State have played some memorable games through the years.
In 1993, the Cowboys hosted the Bulldogs led by quarterback Trent Dilfer. Wyoming was led by quarterback Joe Hughes, All-America wide receiver Ryan Yarbrough and team captains Kurt Whitehead (DE), Mike Jones (TE) and Hughes. The Cowboys came away with a 32-28 win and would go on to tie Fresno State and BYU for the 1993 WAC title.
The 2009 season saw the two teams face off in the New Mexico Bowl. Fresno State was still a member of the WAC and Wyoming was representing the Mountain West.
The Cowboys would come away with a hard fought 35-28 victory in double overtime that featured a memorable goal-line stand by the Cowboys, who stopped the Bulldogs on four straight plays from the one-yard line in the first overtime.
The game ended with a 13-yard TD pass from Cowboy QB Austyn Carta-Samuels to wide receiver David Leonard.
In 2014, Cowboy freshman running back Brian Hill set a school all-purpose yardage record with 387 yards (281 rushing and 106 receiving) in a 45-17 road win in Fresno.
The last time the two teams met was in 2018, when Fresno State defeated the Cowboys 27-3 in Fresno on way to the Bulldogs’ 2018 Mountain West Conference Championship.
Fresno State leads the overall series 7-5. Wyoming leads 3-2 in games played in Laramie.
Wyoming vs. the Mountain West at Home During the Bohl Era
Since the 2014 season when Craig Bohl became head coach at Wyoming, the Cowboys have been very successful in conference home games.
During the Bohl era, Wyoming has posted a 17-9 (.654) record in Mountain West regular-season home games. Twice during the Bohl era, Wyoming has posted a perfect 4-0 record in MW home games during the regular season. Those two seasons were 2016 and 2019.
Since the 2016 season, the Cowboys have been even better in Mountain West regular-season home contests, posting a record of 14-4 (.778).
Wyoming has hosted one Mountain West postseason game in the Bohl era. That was the 2016 MW Championship Game vs. San Diego State. The Aztecs pulled out a three-point win in that game (27-24), after Wyoming had defeated SDSU by one point (34-33) two weeks earlier in Laramie.
As the Wyoming Cowboys prepare to host Fresno State this Saturday, it is worth noting that Wyoming has more players from the state of California on its roster this season than it has players from any other state. There are 28 California Cowboys on the Wyoming roster this season.
Five of Wyoming’s current starters are Californians, that is second only to six starters from the state of Colorado. Current Cowboy starters from California include: Solomon Byrd, DE (Palmdale, Calif.); Sean Chambers, QB (Kerman); Easton Gibbs, LB (Temecula); Azizi Hearn, CB (Oceanside); and Ravontae Holt, DT (Sacramento).
Eight other Californians, who have been key contributors this season are: Caleb Cooley, Special Teams (Chico); Keonte Glinton, Nickel (Bakersfield); Victor Jones, DE (Sacramento); Dawaiian McNeely, RB (Ceres, Calif.); Colin O’Brien (Mission Viejo), Connor Shay, LB (Danville); Rome Weber, SS (San Bernardino); and Miles Williams, FS (Oxnard).
Where to Watch and Listen
For fans who are unable to attend Saturday’s game in War Memorial Stadium, there are several ways to watch and listen.
Radio Broadcast Information for the Cowboy Sports Network (CSN):
Every Cowboy Football game is broadcast live on the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network
Announcers are Dave Walsh, Play-by-Play (38th year), Kevin McKinney, Color Analyst (24th year) and
Reece Monaco, Sideline Reporter (11th year)
The pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
Television Broadcast Information for Wyoming vs. Fresno State Game
Saturday’s game will be televised on FS2. Announcers will be Dan Hellie (Play-by-play) and Petros Papadakis (Color Analyst).